I just came across this documentary on Netflix recently called Wake Up. Although it was produced back in 2010 so many of you might already be familiar with it. For those who aren’t, it’s about a guy called Jonas who, at the age of 37 he starts seeing phenomenon. He described people-like figures coming out from walls, bright lights, geometric shapes and particularly, the shape of a bicycle (which he later identified as a motorcycle) floating cross the top of the room, close to the ceiling and then fall to the floor. While Jonas did not understand it at the time, this vision was prophetic. Shortly afterwards, a good friend of his died in a motorcycle accident.
Jonas was raised with faith but was not overly-religious in adulthood, nor was he part of the New Age, spirituality movement. His immediate concern was that he might be mentally-I’ll. A series of medical tests and brain scans excluded potential causes of abnormalities such as a brain tumour; doctors were confident that it didn’t sound like schizophrenia or any mood disorder; it was not caused by a drug-induced state, which would have been the most obvious explanation. In short, Jonas does not fit neatly into any known psychiatric classifications.
He was introduced to an acupuncturist/healer called Abdi Assadi, who was able to offer up the following exhalation:
“Energetically speaking, something shifts in your consciousness where what traditionally is considered energy centres – chakras, which are different points in your body – they open up and give you access to different realities that we usually don’t have access to. Probably 90+% of electromagnetic phenomenon, which is what’s around us, is actually not visible to our five senses.”
Essentially Jonas is tapping into that 90+% that most of us cannot access. Abdi recommended regular, grounded meditation as this experience is not one that can be figured out by intellectually thinking about it.
Jonas then traveled to Rome to meet Umberto di Grazia, who photographs energies or spirits and Jonas wanted proof, not for himself but more so to convince others – in particular hi supportive but disbelieving partner Mara – of his experiences. The process works by Umberto taking images as people meditate. “In it’s simplest form, we all exist in dimensions that communicate with each other outside of the traditional space/time continuum.”
Umberto told Jonas that it Jonas’ friend, who died in an accident that started this whole process or experience. The pain of losing his friend was consuming Jonas.
When Umberto shows Jonas images that were taken, they clearly show shapes and warm/cool energy masses where Jonas had seen them. One image shows a face-like mass that is familiar to Jonas, he sees this regularly.
He is visibly relieved to confirm that this is happening outside of him and not just in his mind. The familiar mass is also familiar to Umberto, it is one that has been photographed on many occasions. Umberto believes that this entity/energy uses people as a gateway to see our world. It is not dangerous or evil. Umberto assures Jonas that he is not alone in his experiences. For Jonas, it is confirmation that he is not insane. In fact, while trying to convince his girlfriend Mara, he said that the worst thing for her to say would be that she believes that Jonas believes what he is seeing i.e. not that what he is seeing is actually there.
Stephen A. Schwartz of the Cognitive Sciences Laboratory, explains the phenomenon as follows:
“I think one of the most exciting things that is going on in science today is the idea that there is an aspect of us that exists outside of time/space. All consciousness is interconnected and interdependent. Jonas has simply become aware of an aspect of consciousness that most people are unaware of, that is going on around them all the time.”
When Jonas questions why this is happening and what it might mean, Schwartz has this to say:
“I would not make this the defining experience of my life. It is an interesting experience along the path but it is not the path. A year from now you will have to look back and ask yourself, what did I do with that experience? Who am I? Those are questions that are important and worth answering”.
These experiences can become launchpad for an exploration of our own inner-beingness and purpose.
Jonas definitely gets frustrated as several times throughout the documentary and meeting with all of these experts, mentors and gurus.
“There’s that old expression, ignorance is bliss; well that’s just crazy to me. I don’t want to sleepwalk through life”.
When Abdi meets Mara, he has another perspective on this. “It’s not a coincidence that the man in your life is going through this. It is to show you that there is an alternative life.”
Jonas later visits Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, outside Seattle (run by J.Z. Knight), which aims to teach people how their brains work, how their bodies work and ask the question, what is my mind?
The documentary shows an number of exercises to prove the interconnectedness of the group, one of these exercises is blindfold archery.
“Some people leave here in greater chaos and that’s beautiful because that’s change; being in chaos means that you’re not still hanging onto your image [ego?], you know, this is who I am no matter what. He [Jonas] is good at falling apart, he’s going to be even better.”
Jonas’ enlightenment teaches him just him just how resistant he is to “join the spiritual club”. Mara is entirely skeptical here and considers this a cult – she questions whether the school is here to give to its students or to take from them…
Mid-way through the documentary Jonas concedes that his experiences are probably a wake-up call to join the spiritual path.
He then meets a Sufi mystic, or Sheikh, named LLewellyn Vaughan who takes a more philosophical approach to what Jonas is experiencing. #
“I always find it strange Americans believe in even Angels but they don’t believe in nature spirits. It’s only in the last few hundred years that we don’t do that anymore… What’s called belief in science, belief in rationalism, and so we actually developed a consciousness that cut ourselves off from the spirit world in all of its manifestations. That’s the rational mind, we actually created a veil between us and the spirit world.”
Spiritual practice gives us access to the light in us that protects us. LLewellyn warns us not to get caught up in the outer manifestation of our experiences. We don’t want to end up the people who have these amazing experiences but never really ‘get’ what they are about. We need to figures out where to are that light, that intelligence.
“Something in the human being always knows… A real experience is a complete shift in consciousness, and it’s terrifying because suddenly the parameters of your world change; the know world is no longer the known world”
Jonas asks “What’s the point is taking the world journey?”
LLewellyn replies “I’m a mystic so one would say it is to take the journey from one’s ego self to one’s divine nature … Then there is what people will call enlightenment… What is awoken in you is not a passing phase”
At the University of Arizona, Gary E. Schwartz Ph.D Professor of Neurology, Psychology and Medicine explains
“When we want to understand that everything we do and everything we are is energy, one of the ways to demonstrate this is to show that literally, the very act of moving is to create energy”.
Simply put, we are all connected by the energy we share, We are simply antennas for this energy.
It is at this point in the documentary that Mara speaks about losing a close friend of hers and how it affected her. It transpires that Jonas and Mara, despite having never met previously, shared a close mutual friend, Rob, who was killed in the motorcycle accident. They has known of each other through Rob but only met for the first time at his funeral. It is a powerful moment in the documentary when they both return to their hometown in Georgia to visit Rob’s mother, who provides great comfort to Jonas.
Jonas asks Mara to accompany him to meet Roshi Joan Halifax, a Buddhism Monk in Santa Fe. She offers Jonas the following solace:
“Most of us aren’t comfortable being with the unknown, we’re always looking for some reference point to make us feel comfortable. I would say that the thing that gets most people on the spiritual path, more than mystical experience, is suffering. This is the twenty-first century and it’s hell for many, many people. There’s a lot of grace too.”
Mara has her breakthrough moment in the Buddhist centre when sitting in the dining hall, she introduces herself to a fellow diner. Mara comments on how she is uncomfortable saying her name in the Buddhist centre as her namesake was the temptress in Buddhist lore or teachings. The fellow diner clarifies this by explaining that Mara was the one who doubted and questioned Buddha by demanding of him “Who do you think you are to have these experiences and to seek this enlightenment”. This clearly resonates with Mara who breaks down upon hearing it.
Jonas visited Princeton University to meet the team behind the Global Consciousness Project.
“We now have evidence of something that sages in all cultures or thousands of years have said; we are all one, because our consciousness is not confined to our skulls.”
The Global Consciousness Project started in 1998. The idea was that if really large numbers of people feel the same emotion and think the same thoughts, they create a real consciousness that makes the world different from what is would have been. The implication is to find out whether consciousness, intention and emotions are stuck inside your head or if they extend outward in a mind-matter connection. The project involves random number generators, using only the numbers one and zero. Mathematically, you would expect that 50% of the time they would generate ones and 50% of the time they would generate zeros. These generators work from 65 locations around the world, continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What transpired is that at times of crisis, or emotional outpouring, for example Princess Diana’s death, terrorist attacks of various kinds or the Tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people, the generator stopped producing random numbers. This is also true for pleasant events. What was found was a change from 50/50 odds to something different. When masses of people are paying attention to the same thing and feeling the same emotion, it causes these generators to stop being random and to act in a uniform way worldwide. For religious people who have witnessed the power of prayer, this will not come as any surprise. For the rest of us, it is scientific validation that we are, indeed, one. We are all tapping into a special, shared, state of consciousness.
“What this means, well beyond the data which is scientifically interesting, is that when we are brought together, either by external events or because we want to be together, we change the world.”
“There is a transition happening, we are moving into an era of global consciousness, we can’t deny that. We can’t get away from the fact that the world is one” – LLewellyn Vaughan
“We are facing perhaps now a tipping point, beyond which, things will have been set in motion that will be irreversible” – Gary E. Schwartz
“There is this deep hunger in the West for something that is real, as if people know that the civilisation we have created is like – what do they call it? – rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” – LLewellyn Vaughan
“You can’t change the world it’s too big, everyone has got their own world going on. What do you do? You change your life.” – J.Z. Knight
“It’s not really about searching outside, really, all these teachers I’ve met with, all their job was to turn my head inside so that I could look inside.” – Abdi Assadi
The final part of the documentary takes Jonas on a vision quest where he saw a vision of a tent-like structure, with all poles pointing in the same direction and he took that to be an analogy of religion. While, there are many differing religions and beliefs, they all lead to one universal power or entity.
It was a genuinely interesting documentary, honestly told, and what is most intriguing is how prevalent these experiences are; how often this electromagnetic phenomenon can reveal itself to us. The two take-away points for me are (1.) suffering is what gets most people on the spiritual path, and (2.) what is awoken inside is never a passing phase.